Super quick and simple to make this Japanese Tori Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) really hits the spot! You can add garlic and ginger to the marinade if you like for a little extra flavour but I don’t usually. For authenticity make sure you’re eating it with Kewpie mayonnaise!
Chicken breast (or thigh) chopped into bite size chunks
1 tbsp cooking sake
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp corn flour
Large pinch of salt
– Marinate the chicken in the sake and soy sauce (optional: garlic and ginger pastes) for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight in the fridge.
– Heat a pan of oil to 180°
– Drain any excess liquid from the chicken.
– Add the corn flour and salt and mix so the chicken is well coated.
– Drop into the hot oil a piece at a time, cook in batches if necessary so it’s not crowded.
– Cook for 3 minutes until golden brown.
– Remove from the oil with chopsticks (or tongs) and place on a sheet of kitchen paper to drain.
– Serve hot or cold with mayonnaise and a lemon wedge squeezed over.
This is going to be an odd year for many. May be you’re going to be tackling a smaller Christmas Dinner for the first time. May be you’ve decided to go all out now you don’t have to trek round to Auntie Sue’s because it’s “what you always do”! May be you’ve never cooked more than a fried egg but think this is your time to shine!
Whatever your situation, I thought it may be timely to do a little example of how to do a low effort Christmas Dinner as guidance for those that need it. Remember, Christmas Dinner is just a roast dinner but with cranberry sauce and crackers! Don’t let the weight of expectations get you down, this can be as simple or as complicated a meal as you want to make it!
You can look at the Christmas tag for some older recipes and round ups that are more comprehensive but I wanted to highlight some really simple recipes here. Whether you’re on your own or just a smaller family gathering this should hit the spot!
We like to have nibbles to tide us over from noon to 3pm when we have our Dinner. If you want to keep it super simple just grab some party food from the freezer section. These days they almost all cook at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Any leftovers are also great for grazing at!
In my family the Prawn Cocktail is king. (Well, for me it is, mum does try to do fancy smoked salmon thingies!) This is not only traditional but super simple. Finely sliced iceberg lettuce, prawns, cocktail sauce (Iceland’s is my favourite!) and a twist of lemon on top to look fancy. Less than 5 minutes and you’re done!
Turkey is, of course, traditional and if you want to keep it super simple I recommend a frozen Turkey crown. They’re about £10 and you can pick one up in almost any supermarket.
However, a large roast chicken will also do very nicely! I love to do a one pot chicken dish where you simply get a Really Big Pot, put in new potatoes in the base, add your chicken (put some herbs, garlic and half a lemon in the cavity), and scatter with bacon lardons. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook according to the time on the packet (or 25 minutes per lb + 20 minutes in 180°C oven) Add a cup of frozen peas 30 minutes before the end. This also works well in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours if you need the space in the oven or even if you don’t have an oven! You can find the more detailed recipe here.
A roast dinner is all about timing. If you figure out your timings then it’s plain sailing. You can prep all of your veg in advance, even the night before, so all you have to do on the day is put dishes in the oven on time or you can get the roast in and then do your veg prep. I have a post outlining some of the timings for veg here.
2 hours before: Roast In
45 minutes before: parsnips in (I like them crispy.)
30 minutes before: leeks in cream sauce, stuffing balls & pigs in blankets in
25 minutes before: Brussels sprouts and carrots in steamer on the hob. Check the sprouts after 15 minutes by poking with a sharp knife. They should be soft but not soggy.
Serving Time: Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a serving board. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and peas and bacon. You can make gravy with the juices. I explain how here.
Christmas pudding is traditional, easily available from the supermarket, and I hate it. So I have a couple of other seasonal options that you can make the day before:
If you’re on your own do not let this stop you from having a full roast! The leftovers are the best bit! From this dinner I will be able to make sandwiches, soup, risotto and may be a few other dishes as takes my fancy! I basically won’t have to cook again for the next week, which is exactly how I like it!
For a dish that bears my name this took me an embarrassingly long time to get right. I would have potatoes swimming in butter or too crisp to eat without worrying about your fillings. These little stacked Pommes Anna finally hit that sweet spot between buttery and crispy and look fab for what is actually minimal effort. You can do a lot of the prep beforehand in assembling the stacks in the muffin tin if you want to prepare these in advance and then just pop them in the oven when ready so good for dinner parties!
6-8 new potatoes (waxy)
125g unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6.
– Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into 1/8” slices. Put in a small mixing bowl.
– Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
– Brush the insides of six muffin tins with melted butter.
– Place a small sprig of thyme in the bottom of each muffin cup.
– Add the garlic to the melted butter and remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs and add those too.
– Gently heat until fragrant.
– Pour the butter over the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to season and toss gently.
– Place the sliced potatoes carefully in the muffin tins. You want to arrange them so that they will look good when turned out. Press down firmly in the centre.
– Pour the remaining butter over the potatoes.
– Cover the muffin tray with foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
– Place a large oven dish over the muffin tin and carefully flip over so that the potato stacks come out intact. If any fall apart you can push them back into shape.
– Place the oven dish back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the stacks look nice and crispy on the edges.
This Christmas Tree Tear-and-Share Bread is the perfect side to any holiday meal, it’s cute, easy, and can be made ahead the night before for a low stress gathering all round! It’s not so garlicy or cheesy as to overwhelm, but feel free to dial it up!
Bread making doesn’t have to be hard, in fact this takes about 20 minutes hands on time, total! It’s a real crowd pleaser and could easily be scaled up to suit any size of gathering.
250g strong bread flour
4g fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water
100g shredded mozzarella
1 tsp crushed garlic
small handful fresh parsley or basil, shredded
– Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the yeas to one side and the salt to the other.
– Mix to combine.
– Add the olive oil and most of the water, keep a little in reserve in case it’s too sticky.
– Start to bring the dough together in the bowl with your hand, or a dough hook attachment on a mixer.
– If using your hands, when the dough has formed tip out onto a worksurface and continue to knead by hand until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. If using the dough hooks continue to knead in the bowl.
– Set in a clean, oiled bowl and cover. Leave in a warm, draft free place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
– When the dough has risen add the cheese and garlic and knock it down. Knead in the bowl until the cheese and garlic are evenly distributed.
– Grease an oven proof dish.
– Pinch off small balls of dough, about the size of a walnut. I needed 23 balls.
– Roll them in your hands and arrange them in the dish to form a Christmas tree!
– Now you can cover the dish with clingfilm and keep in the fridge overnight, or you can set aside at room temperature for another 30 minute rise.
– When you are ready for your bread get the dough out of the fridge and heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C or higher.
– Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
– Immediately upon removing from the oven, dot the bread with butter.
– Scatter the parsley on top for a green Christmas tree!
An excellent salsa recipe. Related very closely to the Tomato and Red Onion Salsa but to be honest this recipe varys every time I make it according to what’s on hand.
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
1x200g tin sweetcorn, drained
1 large red onion, chopped
4 salad tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp ground corriander
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (less if you want a milder salsa)
2 tbsp lime juice
– Drain most of the juice from the tinned tomatoes and discard (or drink!).
– Mix everything together in a bowl then leave to stand for at least 1 hour at room temperature or in the fridge overnight.
I’m all for oven chips. They’re great. Not much fat and the perfect vehicle for sauce. But you never eat an oven chip and go, “mmm”, do you? Sometimes you need a proper deep fried chip. Fat be damned! Tonight was one of those nights.
I was afraid of the deep fat frier for a long time. It’s boiling oil!!! But I faced up to my fears one night and discovered that actually, it’s not so scary after all. So long as you’re careful and don’t go sticking your fingers in or anything like that it’s not the hideously dangerous exercise I thought it might be! I’ll fry all sorts of things now where previously I’d have found a way round it so give it a go! You might just surprise yourself.
Allow about 2 average potatoes per person. Judge it by eye.
– Switch on the deep fat frier and allow it to get up to temperature.
– Peel the potatoes and cut into half, or thirds, dependent upon the size of your potato and then slice into chip sized chunks.
– Scatter into the frier to separate out the slices. If you have more chips than cover the bottom of the basket then do this in batches.
– Lower the basket into the oil, shut the lid and cook for 6 minutes.
– Take out and put in a warm dish lined with kitchen paper and keep warm. Cook the next batch and do the same then set aside while you cook the rest of the meal.
– Just before you are ready to serve tip the chips back into the fryer in one batch and fry for another 2 minutes.
– Tip back into a warm, lined bowl and serve. I always serve with a sprinkle of ground salt but if you’d rather add salt at the table then do so.
The filling for these dough balls came from a recipe called Italian Chicken so I thought I’d carry over the name. Rather than being Italian in style the mix of flavours is what makes it Italian. The tang of garlic mixed in with the bursts of tomato over the creamy base makes and excellent, and moreish, combination. Tonight we had Italian Chicken and I thought I’d make some dough balls filled with the left over cheese mix. I’ve tweaked the recipe from the first time I made Dough Balls and now they’re even better! They only take an hour to throw together so it’s perfect if you don’t have time to make bread during the day.
Makes 12 dough balls
250g strong bread flour
1 tsp (approx 4g) fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water
250g soft cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp herbes de provence
– In a medium sized bowl mix together the flour, yeast and salt. Make a well in the centre.
– Tip the water and oil into the well.
– Mix together with a wooden spoon until the mix comes together into a dough.
– Once combined tip our onto a floured worksurface and dust with flour.
– Knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.
– Set aside to rest in a covered, lightly oiled bowl for 10-15 minutes.
– Meanwhile mix together the cheese, garlic, tomatoes and herbs in a small bowl.
– Lightly knead the dough so all the oil is absorbed.
– Divide the dough into 12 balls, covering the dough you aren’t working with.
– Roll each ball out into to a circle about 3″ in diameter.
– Place a heaped teaspoon of cheese mixture in the centre of each circle.
– Gather the edges of the circle together and pinch closed so the seam disappears.
– Place in an oiled baking dish leaving a little space between balls.
– Bake at gas mark 7 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown on top.
– Serve warm to enjoy them at their best.
I love this dish. It’s much more fiddly than simply steaming some potatoes it’s true but it’s such a delicious side dish that I think it’s well worth the effort. I first had this only a year or two ago in France and it was the high point of possibly the best meal of my life. I have to apologise for this being another recipe which really needs specialist bits and bobs but I’ve had the mandoline out and I’m in love with another kitchen gadget! It’s magic, I was so impressed with how easy it made slicing everything up so thinly. I may even have to try making my own crisps. I’ve also made this dish with celeriac recently and I have to recommend that as an excellent way to eat it. I hate celery with a passion, it’s one of the Five Foods of Doom that I will not eat, so I was a bit worried but celeriac dauphinoise was a delicious introduction to the vegetable and not celery-y at all. The creamyness of this dish goes very well with beef, I’ve had it with steak, boeuf bourguignon and, tonight, roast beef.
Serves 4 generously
approx 3 large potatoes (Use your head and cater for how big a dish you want to fill and how big your tatties are.)
splash of milk
2 cloves garlic, very finely sliced (I used a mini mandoline, also very useful!)
2 tsp thyme leaves
– First peel your potatoes and slice finely, preferably with a mandoline if not be careful!
– Heat the cream, butter and milk in a pan until piping hot but not boiling.
– Grease an oven proof dish and pour in a shallow layer of cream.
– Lay potato slices on top of this, scatter with a few garlic slices, sprinkle with a bit of thyme and season with salt and pepper.
– Spoon more cream over this then another layer of potatoes on top, scatter with garlic and thyme, season and repeat until you reach the top of your dish or run out of potatoes. (I try to keep back enough good slices to make the top layer aesthetically pleasing and bury the tatty bits in the middle.)
– If you have any cream left pour this on top.
– Cook in the oven at gas mark 7 for an hour, placing foil on top to prevent burning half way through.
– Test with a sharp knife to see if it’s cooked through, there should be little to no resistance.
This recipe was actually for spinach gnocchi, however, despite following the recipe to the letter when the time cake to cook the gnocchi it was evident that in no way was this going to work! I tried a few anyway and I was right, these were never going to be gnocchi. So I grabbed a baking dish and deposited it all in there, grated some cheddar and parmesan on top and bunged it all in the oven for 25 minutes. Sorted! It turned out to be a surprisingly good bake so no harm. I will be trying another recipe for gnocchi in the future but not for a while I think! For a picture see the previous post.
– Rinse the spinach and put it in a large pan with the lid on for a few minutes until it has wilted. You may have to do this in batches.
– Turn out into a collander and press out all of the water.
– Return to the pan and add the ricotta and butter. Heat through until the butter has melted and all is combined.
– Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well.
– Spoon into a baking dish and chill for 30 minutes. (The chilling may or may not be necessary for a bake but I was trying to make gnocchi so see what happens!)
– Sprinkle the top with the cheeses and bake at gas mark 6 for 25 minutes until the cheese is golden.
Hi, I'm Anna and this is what's going on in my kitchen and growing in my garden.
Everything you see here is how it looked as I cooked and ate it. I don't like to make things too fussy. I want you to know that if you try one of my recipes what you see is what you'll get.
Don't forget to leave a comment, I love to know what you're thinking and if you do try out a recipe then let me know how it worked for you. Happy cooking!